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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Jun 12, 2007 11:17am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Preferred Tempo

The ability to listen to so many versions of the same song and hear how the song evolves is one of my favorite aspects of this archive. Not being a musician myself I can not pick out many of the subtle changes that many here comment on, however it is even obvious to me that the tempo of many songs change over the years. In some cases its more like over the week. For example, Eyes is posted about often here and when people ask for favorite versions, 11/4/77 and 10/29/77 are always at the top of many lists. I like both, but could they be more different? 11/4 is lightening quick and similar to what most Eyes that I have heard from the post break period into the early 80s, while 10/29 sounds more like what the song evolved into in the late 80s/early 90s to me.

Do you have a preferred tempo for songs? I tend to like one more than another, but could imagine some people may hate one version or think a song was ruined by a change. Here are my preferences from some songs. What are yours?

Eyes - slower
FOTD - faster (and acoustic, seems to fit the lyrics to me)
Bertha - faster (eg 1971 vs. 1977)
Jack Straw - slower, although I love the one from the Carrier dome in 1984 (10/20/84) if I am in a bad mood.
TLEO - faster

Larry

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Poster: johnnyonthespot Date: Jun 12, 2007 12:55pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Preferred Tempo

GREAT topic!

Eyes - I agree with Syd, 6/9/76 is an excellent up tempo. I too prefer the slower ones

Larry- I agree with ALL of your tempo preferences on your picks with one exception: I like the reggae slower version. My favorite being the first show they played the new arrangement at 9-28-75

You don't hear too many mentions of the slower Jack Straw but I completely agree. I like where they drifted into the intro instead of racing to get to the first verse.

Couple more:

Scarlet: up tempo reggae feel

Other One: the faster the better

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Jun 12, 2007 1:34pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Preferred Tempo

I always go for the earlier version. My two biggest per peeves were the revamped St. Stephen Waltz and Dupree's Diamond Snooze.

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Poster: sydthecat2 Date: Jun 12, 2007 12:44pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Preferred Tempo

Hey,

I just mentioned this in my review of the first Long Beach Arena show in 1981. They play an Eyes in my least favourite tempo (breakneck) but Jerry plays it out into Drums devastatingly so I can't whine too much.

The perfect tempo for Eyes, strictly for me, was played with Branford Marsalis in 1990 at Nassau Coliseum. It is close to the song's 1973-74 tempo. The mad tempos of the early 80's is not my cup of tea. That being said the trotting Eyes of 6/9/76 is a true delight.
Jack Straw? Gotta say I'm a fan of the way they played it from 1987-90 (check out Calaveras '87, Meadowlands 4/1/88, or Oakland 12/30/89). But I have heard some versions from '77-'78 that just rip. Of the earier versions Bostone 12/2/73 seems a fair compromise. In the nineties they seemed to goose the tempo higher during the verse section that sucked some of the poignancy out of the number (although the infamous Bobby's Pink Guitar Breakdown at Eugene in '93 left Jerry alone on stage tearing off line after brilliant line until Weir came back to finish the song after what seemed like glorious eons deserves a big mention).

I've always loved the way they played He's Gone around 1981. Dead slow. The song became an true elegy and all the more powerful for it. Plus it often lumbered into a rollicking Other One you could never see coming. This is to take nothing away from the amazing He's Gone>Truckin'>Other One's of 1973. I have a soft spot for the Philly Spectrum He's Gone of that year (my favourite Sing Me Back Home too).

TLEO? I think the 1977 tempo is just exactly perfect but burst into tears of joy when I got my first and only one at Deer Creek in 1990.

Morning Dew!!!!! The most disappointing thing about the 92-95 Dead, apart from some of Jerry's worst performances, was the sudden goosing of this song's tempo. It was subtle but definitely noticeable. The same thing happened with He's Gone. I think the final Dew from '95 was more in keeping with Dew's of yore but I saw one at Shoreline in '92 that just had me shaking my head thinking, "Wrong! Wrong!".

Tempo's dead important. We all know that. Look at the Rolling Stones song "Bitch" for example. They brought it back in 1989 but at too quick a tempo. The sex that drives the tune vanished. It became a cover band version. Thankfully by Voodoo Lounge they had it back to the '72 Tour tempo. Miles Davis drove the songs "All Blues" and "So What" like runaway trains when he had the George Coleman and Wayne Shorter bands (try Live at the Plugged Nickel and compare it to Kind of Blue versions). I always thought it was because he was bored with playing them. It annoyed the shit out of me when I first heard them but it really let the players loose on those great modal masterpieces.

That bizarrely slow Truckin' from Oakland 12/09/94 seems like a mistake until the song's coda and then you realize that the song's dynamics are being thrown into relief and the coda's climax is kinda like being hit by a...Mac Truck.

Okay I'll stop now. I think I've got all the typos fixed too.

This post was modified by sydthecat2 on 2007-06-12 19:44:14

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Poster: rosey842 Date: Jun 13, 2007 7:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Preferred Tempo

I like them all...ha,ha... Seriously, some of the tempo changes take some getting used to but as others said, that's what kept the band interesting. My biggest example would be FOTD. I never really cared for the slow versions either until giving them repeated listenings. Now I can listen to either, especially when Brent was in the band & did his solo on the keys.

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Jun 14, 2007 3:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Preferred Tempo

I agree, for me its preference more than love or hate. I think its that way for most people. Although as was pointed out in the Key to the sound post above, it is as if you could think of them as several bands and clearly some people like one band called the Grateful Dead much better than another band called the Grateful Dead.

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Poster: dogsinapile! Date: Jun 12, 2007 3:41pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Preferred Tempo

RE: Friend Of The Devil...
I always really got into the album version, being a child of bluegrass and acoustic music. You are right that the tempo seemed to fit the lyrics. BUT...
Some of the slower versions just carried so much power. That mid-song instrumental break would just build and build and build...
and then explode into "Got two reasons why I cry away each lonely night"
I always thought that was a great example of why I love the Grateful Dead, but can't put it into words.



This post was modified by dogsinapile! on 2007-06-12 22:41:49

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Jun 12, 2007 3:44pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Preferred Tempo

EYES: slower tempo, either the classic 1973-74 versions or especially the 1977 versions. Favorite single tempo: 10/29/77

BERTHA: 1977 again. Love the 10/29/77 version (again) b/c of its leisurly pace which allows for Phil to really stand out and Jerry to take numerous riffs of brilliance (also less likely to forget the words)

TLEO: Fast! Love those early '73 versions (w/extra verse thrown in!) Favorite: 2/9/73, Stanford.

JACK A ROE: Slow. Love the Mark Knopfler-esque sound Jerry achieved. Favorite: 5/17/77

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Jun 12, 2007 4:59pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Preferred Tempo

I listened to that very same Jack A Roe leaving work on my walk to the car!! My favorite. I also like the Jack Straw that preceeds it, much in part because of Donna. She nails that one.

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Jun 13, 2007 2:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Preferred Tempo

That whole Alabama show is great (they all seem to be in May of '77). That Jack A Roe is also the one Phil chose to put on his "From the Phil Zone" CD!

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Jun 12, 2007 1:40pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Preferred Tempo

elbow1126:
..cool topic. "Peggy-O" -- slow or, more precisely, whatever tempo was played at the Fox (1977-05-19 -Dick's Pick #29). --- AshesRising

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Jun 12, 2007 1:55pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Preferred Tempo

Sorry for the joint reply, still working and everyone had great posts.

Syd, 3/29/90 Eyes was exactly the one I was think about when comparing to 10/29/77. Not heard live at the plugged nickel but will get a hold of it and make the comparison. Thanks for the suggestions and insight.

JOTS, never heard a TOO that was too fast either. As a latecomer to the scene I only heard the song live from 92-94 and didn't think much of it. This place made me realize what a great song it is. I even find I like MAMU better when it was sandwiched in the middle of that fury, circa 1971.

GOP, I completely agree about St. Stephen and hardly listen to versions after 1969.

Ashes, I also agree about Peggy-O. I tend to go for the 5/25/77 version. Slow and sad. Haven't heard 5/19 yet but will check it out.